AP: Texas Allows Sex Offenders to be EMTs

Ambulance attendants accused of molesting patients.

An investigation by The Associated Press has uncovered that over the past 18 months, at least 129 ambulance attendants across the U.S. have been accused of sex-related crimes on duty or off.

Emergency medical technicians have been accused in recent months of such crimes as rape, soliciting minors over the Internet and possession of child porn.

In Copperas Cove, a paramedic is awaiting trial in January on charges he exposed and touched an 18-year-old accident victim's breasts while pretending to tend to her injuries.

State health officials in 23 states reported receiving sex-related complaints involving ambulance workers. New York reported the most complaints -- 17. Texas reported 13 complaints, Massachusetts 11 and Virginia 10.

Former Dallas Fire Chief Steve Abraira suggests ambulances carry three workers. Ambulances usually have two -- one in the front, one in the back.

Although most states insist they would rarely, if ever, allow sex offenders to work those jobs, the AP found that Texas has knowingly allowed eight, Louisiana two and Maine, Virginia and North Carolina one each.

Twenty-two states strictly prohibit such offenders from working as EMTs.

Small town outraged over sex offender EMT

Officials in Lockhart, a town of 13,000 about 30 miles south of Austin, have been up in arms since discovering last December that a registered sex offender was working for the city as a firefighter and emergency medical technician.

And the state knew about it.

Lockhart City Manager Vance Rodgers said he felt betrayed when he learned that the state had certified the EMT, Michael Harris, knowing that he twice pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges that he exposed himself to women in New York.

The case is the most visible example of how health officials in Texas for years have allowed some sex offenders to serve as EMTs and paramedics. Records examined by The Associated Press show that at least seven other sex offenders have been certified by the Department of State Health Services, the agency that oversees EMTs. Those seven were each convicted of felonies involving children ranging in age from 6 to 16.

A nationwide survey by the AP found that most states do not have laws expressly prohibiting sex offenders from working as EMTs, but few have actually allowed such individuals to do so.

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